Bishop Luers rallied to cut a seven-point deficit to 20-18 late in the third set, but visiting Bishop Dwenger won the last five points of the match to win the annual Battle of the Bishops 25-11, 25-15, 25-18 on Tuesday.
“I thought we played well, up to the end,” Bishop Dwenger coach Tim Houser said. “It's hard to have three sets in a row that you play pretty much mistake-free. But I feel like we've just gotten into the groove.”
The Saints (9-0) won the first four points of the match and kept a lead of at least three points throughout the first set.
“We're working a lot on serve and pass,” Houser said. “The offense that you see out there with Eva Hudson – and we have others out there, (Kristin) Bobay and Lexa (Zimmerman) and the middles – if we serve and pass, the offense will automatically come.”
The second set was tight in the early going, but two straight kills by Hudson ignited a seven-point run that put the Saints up 21-12. Senior Maria Reecer had two aces during that streak.
Bishop Luers led early in the third before the Saints won nine straight points with Briana Evans serving, three of which were aces by the senior. But the Knights (7-9) worked their way back into the game, forcing a timeout.
“(I told them) to clean up and just get refocused, clean up the mistakes,” Houser said. “We call them unforced errors. Sometimes the ball's not exactly where it needs to be, and you don't have to pound it every time. There are shots to be shot. You can hit shots, you can throw it, you can tip it, you can roll it.
“And I've been trying to install that all year, we don't just have to bomb the ball every time. Obviously, when we're in system, we want to pound it, and they want to pound the ball, and you can see we do that very well. I just talked about out of system errors, communication errors, hitting errors when the ball isn't passed or set right.”
After the match, Houser complimented Olivia Tellez, a senior setter who, along with senior Lillie Olson, is one of the few Saints who is not a returning starter.
“She's waited for four years to have this opportunity,” Houser said. “She served the ball really well today, and we talked about it, if she misses a serve it's usually because of her toss. But she served the ball really aggressive. She's starting to make the right decisions. It's easy to go to Hudson every time, but we want to move the ball around.”
Bishop Dwenger is just now starting to get in the flow of the season. They have a great chance to test their progress this weekend, when they face New Castle, McCutcheon and Providence at the Y Classic in Indianapolis.
“It's hard to adjust, and we're so used to the hard (matches) at the beginning of the season,” said Hudson, who recently verbally committed to Notre Dame. “But I think we really have improved, and we're working a lot harder in practice to make up for those tougher games that we lost early in the season.”